at the Cafe Gourmet Ltd.

James Brown counts out
the beat on
the cafe stereo
loud enough
to be heard on
the street
corner by
the man with half
a face
over to tip
his cigarette into
the glowing
cave of
his palms
& the
bearded woman
rocking back
and forth on
her bare
feet to smooth a
route to slumber for
the wide-
eyed infant
on her hip:
arrangement only
lasts for one
full measure
before the man
moves on,
perhaps to keep
his smoke away
from the baby
occasional fervent
cries start coming
faster &
the Godfather
of Soul goes
on chanting
get up
get up.

Originally published in Wind Magazine, Winter 2002 (#86)